Horsetail Falls in April 2008
It’s sorta hard to miss Horsetail Falls! It’s only a few feet from the road. It was so close that it was hard to avoid getting the stop sign in the picture!
Besides being one of the most accessible waterfalls you could possibly imagine, it’s also a very pretty waterfall. It’s not the tallest or the most spectacular in the Columbia River Gorge, but you’ve still gotta check it out! While you’re there, you can check out another waterfall, Ponytail Falls, which is on the same creek.
- As long as you’re driving along the Columbia River Scenic Byway, you’ll find this falls. I think it’s to the west of Multnomah Falls, the most famous of the falls here. It’s to the east of the parking area for Elowah Falls.
- The parking area for the falls is across the street.
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Length of Hike: Roadside
Where in the World is Horsetail Falls?
Upper Latourell Falls in April 2008
Many of the waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge are visible from the road or require extremely short hikes to get to them. Others require much longer hikes. Upper Latourell Falls is right square in the middle. It cannot be directly viewed from the road, but the hike is not terribly long either.
Even so, parts of the hike to the falls are steep. Just think…as you’re on the trail to Upper Latourell Falls, you’ve got to hike right up near the top of Latourell Falls, which is 200+ feet. After you’ve climbed this rather steep section, it does get easier. The hike on the way up is the hard part. Coming back down, not as much. Along the way, you may enjoy many different wildflowers if they’re in season. Corydalis and Bleeding Hearts were blooming profusely when in visited in late April 2008.
- The trail to Latourell Falls and Upper Latourell Falls is found on the western-most portion of the Columbia Gorge Scenic Road (off of I-84 east of Portland). The parking lot for Latourell Falls is very easy to find.
- From here, if you want to access the Upper Falls, take the left trail, which starts heading up instead of down. From this trail, you will get some great views of Latourell Falls.
- Once you reach Upper Latourell Falls, it appears that you can continue looping on this trail. I tried, but gave up after a while and connecting back onto the original trail by crossing the river on a tree (which was easier than it sounds).
Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/strenuous)
Length of Hike: 2.25 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Upper Latourell Falls?
Ponytail Falls is one of the “hidden” waterfalls in the Columbia River Gorge, considering that you can not directly view Ponytail Falls from the road. There’s a moderately steep hike involved with visiting this waterfall.
Ponytail Falls is on the same creek as Horsetail Falls, and is sometimes called Upper Horsetail Falls. Horsetail Falls is directly viewed from the road. If you’re in the Horsetail Falls area, visit Ponytail Falls also, though the hike is somewhat steep. I don’t think it was awful, but I had already tired myself out hiking or trying to hike to other “hidden” falls. Of the falls not visible from the road, this is one of the more accessible ones. Everything’s relative, though!
- From I-84, get onto the Columbia Gorge scenic highway.
- Head west on the highway to Horsetail Falls, which is west of Multnomah Falls.
- From the parking lot where you view Horsetail Falls, take the trail that leads to Ponytail Falls.
- I think the trail is about 0.4 miles one-way, but it is steep, so it does seem longer.
Accessibility: 5/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip
Ponytail Falls in late April 2008
Where in the World is Ponytail Falls?
Wahkeena Falls in April 2008
Wahkeena Falls is one of the many waterfalls viewable directly from the Historic Columbia River Highway. There is clearly marked parking for the falls. The only slightly confusing thing is that the falls can be accessed from the interconnected system of trails, and so you may be at another waterfall and see a sign saying Wahkeena Falls is some distance away by trail. Unless you really like hiking, just look for the major parking area.
The falls are extremely beautiful and rather complex. At the parking area, you can see the falls in its 240′ entirety, which involves the main drops and a multitude of cascades below the main drops. In order to access the main drops, you have to hike on the clearly marked, short, but moderately steep paved trail. I believe that trail continues onto Multnomah Falls. After hiking up the trail, you will see the second drop very clearly, as it will be feet away from you. The first drop becomes more difficult to see at that angle. There is a lot of spray from the falls, so be sure to cover your camera lens.
- From I-84, get onto the Historic Columbia River Highway.
- Look for the Wahkeena Falls parking lot as you’re driving along the highway. It will be to the west of the Multnomah Falls parking area.
Accessibility: 10/10 (roadside view), 8/10 (trail to the falls)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Wahkeena Falls?
Elowah Falls in April 2008
Elowah Falls is probably my favorite waterfall out of those I saw in the Columbia River Gorge (though I saw only a few). The hike and setting are so beautiful. The waterfall can be seen at eye level by taking the Elowah Falls Trail, or can be seen from above by taking the trail to Upper McCord Creek Falls. The Elowah Falls trail is relatively easy, though there are some ups and downs. The trail to Upper McCord Creek Falls becomes very narrow, and at some points you are only a foot or so away from a 200-foot drop. I turned around before I got to the Upper McCord Creek Falls. (I actually thought I had seen a portion of Upper McCord Creek Falls, only to realize later that I was nearing the crest of Elowah Falls!)
- If you are already on the road that passes right next to the gorge, the trail is accessible by a parking lot that is right near the entrance to I-84. If you are coming from the west, you can exit at I-84 Exit 37. If you are coming from the east on I-84, you should exit before that and take the gorge road.
- Once at the parking lot for John B. Yeon State Park, begin walking up the trail, which I believe is clearly marked as leading to the falls. About halfway along the trail, you’ll reach a fork in the trail. One leads left to Elowah Falls, the other right to Upper McCord Creek Falls. Take the trail left, and then you’ll reach your destination. The trail to Elowah Falls is less than a 1 mile one way.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Length of Hike: 1.4 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Elowah Falls?